Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Nanaimo Bars

100711 006-1DAY 6: Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo is a little town on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is where my dear husband spent the first half of his childhood. These bars have a controversial history all their own, but Canadians are ever true to these bars originating in their little seaside town. More info and the recipe officially adopted by Nanaimo can be found on the Nanaimo city website.

These bars are definitely more like a candy than cookie. If you remember that before you take a great big bite, they will not seem so outrageously sweet. Think  “double frosted fudge”  not “brownie”  and you will take appropriate nibbles that will keep your blood sugar in check.


Nanaimo Bars

100711 007-1

Bottom Layer
½ cup butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 Tbs cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup shredded coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, almonds and coconut. Press firmly into a buttered 8″ x 8″ pan.

Middle Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbs plus 2 tsp cream
2 Tbs vanilla custard powder (Birds’ Custard Powder)
½ tsp vanilla
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbs unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over middle layer and chill in refrigerator until firm.  Cut into small squares.

Recipe from the City of Nanaimo website



Filed under Candy, Cookies, Desserts

7 responses to “Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Nanaimo Bars

  1. I haven’t had these in ages, and I don’t think I’ve ever made them myself. Two of your ingredients, I’ve never heard of before (European style cultured butter and Birds Eye custard powder).


    • European cultured butter is butter that has a live culture added to it. It has a higher fat content (and therefore a lower moisture content) than regular butter. I can only get this at specialty stores like Trader Joe’s, so I usually just use regular salted butter. Birds custard powder (I mistakenly wrote Birds Eye- those are veges, not custard powder!) is kind of like Jello pudding mixes. Grocery stores by me carry it either above the pudding mixes or in the International Aisle. I have heard that you can substitute vanilla cook and serve pudding for the custard powder, but I have never tried it since I can get the custard powder. Here is a link to what the package looks like:


  2. Lori Smith

    Yumm!! I love Nanimo bars, They are one of my favorites! Thanks for sharing!


  3. Oooh, those look so good!


  4. I love these things! Yours look fabulous!


  5. jorj2006

    Hi, Nanaimo is actually on Vancouver Island. Not Victoria Island


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